President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good morning, dear colleagues and dear veterans!
Our meeting today is devoted to an issue of great responsibility: preparing for the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.
I would like to begin right away by bringing your attention to the fact that in addition to organizational, financial, and social issues, our steering committee must also address the informational aspects of this anniversary, because that, too, is an extremely important aspect of our work.
We understand that the legacy of the Victory is not just our memory and our history. It is also a powerful moral resource in developing our nation. Historic truth about the war, the lessons of war, and their connection to the modern world also have eternal meaning.
On the 65th anniversary of lifting the blockade on Leningrad, we are acknowledging the significance of the heroism of the people and the unvanquished spirit of Leningrad’s citizens in a special way, by being in this very city. And, of course, we must especially recognize our debt to all the veterans of that war and the blockade victims. Today, we are convinced of the extent to which the residents of Saint Petersburg hold sacred the memory of those days of blockade and the people who withstood it.
The directions of our work and preparations for the anniversary are determined by our list of main events. Now, we must use it as a basis for creating working plans in every region and each federal district. Our objective is to present them to the steering committee before April 1 of this year.
Another topic that we must address today is not the organization of the work, but the main and most important topic: societal support for veterans. Societal support for veterans is, of course, one of the government’s main objectives. No global crises or financial difficulties should reflect on how we carry out our societal duties.
I have spoken about this many times, and I would like to say it again within these walls, addressing all the federal ministry and department executives, regional leaders, and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoys present here today. I remind you that one of the first decrees that I signed as President of Russia was addressed the issue of housing for war veterans. I feel that it is crucially important to resolve this issue by the 65th anniversary of the victory in the war.
Today, more than 50 thousand veterans are in need of housing. Our objective is to calibrate our lists once again, to ensure that not a single war participant is without an apartment. The Ministry of Regional Development must report to the steering committee quarterly about how this task is being carried out. In addition to the Ministry of Regional Development, I am addressing all the plenipotentiary envoys present: take this issue under your personal control.
This is a governmental task, we have agreed to allocate funds, the federal component has been allotted, and the regions have also been able to find the money. This task must be completed meticulously, within the timeframe that I have specified: by Victory Day, the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.
There is another topic related to the celebration. We must complete our search for front-line veterans who have still not received the awards conferred during the war, despite the passage of so much time. I remind you that after 1945, there were over 3 million such individuals. Of course, the overwhelming majority of these awards have been granted by now, but nonetheless, we must completely resolve this issue, find the other veterans, and present them with their awards.
Work with war memorials also has particular significance. Regional and local government authorities are directly responsible for this work. Effective pre-conceptual study and care for burial sites and memorials are your objective and your responsibility.
The government must take additional measures and coordinate regional work on this issue. The Ministry of Defence, in turn, must very quickly – by April 1 of this year – provide suggestions on accelerating these works. The corresponding mission has also been given to the Presidential Control Directorate. It is important for this issue to be under constant control.
I will mention the figures that I saw today, in preparation for our meeting and the steering committee session. Over 2.4 million individuals are considered missing in action. We do not know the names of six million people in 9.5 million soldiers who are buried in communal graves. In total, there are 47 thousand soldier burial sites in Russia and abroad.
And we must admit openly, without mincing words, that we must work hard: some of these burial sites are not fit, which is simply unacceptable. Once again, regardless of any crises, these kinds of works must be done. This is our duty. There is no need to elaborate on this subject.
There is another issue of historical truth must be brought to light. The data about our losses have still not been made public. I know that through an initiative by the Ministry of Defence, an inter-departmental work group is being put together to analyse these data. I would like for the Minister of Defence to also take care of this issue and take it under his personal control.
As I have already said, one of our key challenges during the celebration of our Victory’s anniversary is that of informing the public. Information must be based on modern technology and modern media possibilities, and should be oriented to all different kinds of audiences, including youth.
During the time that remains, the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), the TV channel Zvezda, and other channels must prepare and create a full, high-quality cycle of programming devoted to our Great Victory.
Russian libraries must also augment their reserves with the best Soviet and modern Russian books about the war. It is important, of course, for the subject of this war to have a place of respect in theatre repertoires, museum exhibits, and works by young authors.
For this, we must provide cultural establishments with all the necessary support. In this case, I am addressing the regions and plenipotentiary envoys. The theme of Victory should be also present in our foreign politics initiatives. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs must prepare its suggestions by May 1. That, too, is a decree that I am making.
Another topic that is impossible to avoid and which has been raised by war veterans during my meetings with them is the distortion of the truth about the war, the truth about the undeniable and decisive input by the Red Army and the Soviet Union in defeating fascism and liberating Europe, the truth about the subsequent influence of the victory on the development of historic world processes. And here is our challenge (I am addressing everyone present here and those who are listening to us): to actively counter these sorts of fallacious interpretations of history. It is, if you will, our civic duty.
The upcoming anniversary is a unique opportunity for the entire international community to once again reflect on the lessons of the war and remember the roots of fascism, whose ideology has still not been eliminated, and which is, in some instances, essentially prospering. I think that it would also be possible to initiate the organization of a large international military-scientific conference, and continue publishing the multi-tome fundamental history volume, “The Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945,” which is based on credible and objective sources. Naturally, we must work on all of these issues in cooperation with our colleagues, our friends from CIS countries, whose people shared with us the hardships of war and worked with us to reach our common victory.
A significant part of our work, direct participation in preparing celebratory events, lies with veteran organizations. I would like to use this opportunity to once again bring attention to their enormous input into military-patriotic work, as well as work with young people. Everything that is being done by veteran organizations, in order to strengthen society’s moral climate and in order for us to remember the lessons of war, is incredibly important for all of us and, of course, for future generations.